Plankton Wat is the musical moniker of what’s actually a solo artist anyway, guitarist/bassist/producer Dewey Mahood out of Portland. Although The Healing Earth features some very scant, gentle vocals on one song which don’t even really form words but rather just embody another nice texture over some of these careful, punctilious tones, the music is mostly all instrumental.
I was introduced to Plankton Wat somehow back in 2014 and I think ended up with some CD, purchased used, which was this sort of bare but colorful drone-rock I came to adore in my own way and sort of find singular, I guess. Down the road, then, Mahood with his relentlessly experimental exploits would robustly confuse me, as on some projects he seemed to be this acoust-strumming cowboy, more indebted to Neil Young and maybe Blitzen Trapper than Yellow Swans, Juliana Barwick or any of the ambient giants that seemed to foretell some of his more obtuse recordings.
And then leave it to The Healing Earth, astonishingly enough, to actually PERPETUATE this sort of identity crisis, with the textural, tonal opener “The Quiet Earth” giving way to two songs, “Crescent of Light” and “Regeneration,” which sound more like a Songs: Ohia album with no words than anything futuristic.
By and large, The Healing Earth works as an overall enjoyable slab of music for a couple of key reasons. One, despite this apparent schizophrenia of style, which can oddly be a feather in its cap as much as a hazard, it makes its mission clear early on and never wavers too far off of that objective, which is, as Bandcamp and Facebook report, write an album dedicated to Mother Nature herself, to be released on Earth Day, and “create original music in a subconscious matter, without planning or rehearsal, using limited tools,” the tools of which he then goes on to list and which don’t include a computer or looping. As a whole, this album offers music which though quiet, is purposeful, never static or stale, and never showy, married to its own embryonic ideas like something which really is stream-of-consciousness, of “subconscious,” as the Bandcamp blurb establishes.
The other formative token for The Healing Earth is Mahood’s commendable knack for variety — utilizing various instruments, though basic, each in numerous different ways and keeping things fresh in the departments of texture and mood. Also, related to how one song is called “Energy Flux,” the brief length of these songs plays as an advantage of Mahood’s in itself, similar to the way the earth itself has of laying out a beautiful tapestry only to soon destroy it with changing weather. Ultimately, then, this “love song” to an earth full of “flux” might be a naïve idea, but a more beautiful one for it, one which offers a song with high-pitched bass taking the melody, sporadic organ drapings to enrich the sound, and a vaguely alt-rock/classic-rock/Third Eye Blind type of feel, which will emanate out of the stately subtlety to the keen listener.